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Sector News, 28 January - 1 February 2008

Education Guardian 29 January 2008, page 8, Comment “We are at risk of losing good, impartial careers advice” (Tony Watts)

Article argues the merits of having partnerships between schools/colleges and external agencies.  It expresses concern over the possibility of the government moving towards a school based advice and guidance system.,,2248146,00.html

Times Higher Education 31 January 2008, page 14 "Royal Society calls for more science PhDs" (Zoë Corbyn)

“The UK’s innovation economy will stall without skilled graduates[.]”

The Royal Society warns that without an increase of science PhD graduates the UK’s vision of an innovation economy will fail.  The society points to a 10% fall of science doctorates being awarded.   Article discusses UK’s position compared with its competitors, compares overall masters results with those of science based subjects and calls for more collaboration between education and industry.

Times Higher Education 31 January 2008, page 23 “We need those who can teach” (Gerard Kelly) 

“G.B. Shaw’s infamous maxim derided pedagogy as a job for the second-rate.  It’s a shame the academy often acts as if it agrees.”  G. Kelly’s opinion on the place of “teaching only” staff in Universities.   He discusses the often perceived lowly status of staff who teach but are not  involved in research.

Times Higher Education 31 January 2008, page 30 “A lesser breed” (Esther Oxford) 

“Teaching-only staff were once widely deemed unworthy of the name ‘academic’.  But one in four academics is now labelled so, and the proportion is expected to grow.” Major six page article on teaching-only staff in universities.  It plots the rise of teaching only staff and predicts future growth.  There is a major discussion on the perceptions held by university staff.  For example, “I certainly hope teaching-only never becomes a majority.  that would bring into question the nature of higher education.  I can’t see how we would sustain higher education without the link between teaching and research.” (Bottom of page 31).  Alternatively, “The status of teaching-only academics is rising on the back of acknowledged professional standards for teaching and an increasing number of promotion prospects.  These changes are not just lip service, they genuinely work”. (Bottom of page 32)

Times Higher Education 31 January 2008, page 36 “Community building” 

“Worries about extremism on and off campus have spurred universities to foster more cultural awareness and understanding in their local areas.” (Hannah Fearn)

Set against the background of terrorist threats, Chaudry Shafique (Director of Quality and Community Cohesion (Council for Christian and Muslim relations)) is clear that universities are central to the community cohesion debate.   A view supported by the Reverend David Picket (council’s vice chairman).  David Conway, senior research fellow at the Centre for Social Cohesion claims that “British universities are suffering from complacency in the fact of the very real threat of extremism on campus”.   “If we are going to counter some of the more alarming aspects of extremism in our world, and indeed bigotry, then we’d all feel that education is going to play a clear part in that “. (David Picket). Article continues with a discussion on universities role in community cohesion.

TES 1 February 2008, FE Focus, page 1  “Welcome for burger-laureates” (Steve Hook)

“College leaders say they can create new awards to be more responsive to the needs of employers such as McDonalds” (See also leading article on page 4 “Bright future for lecturers on Big Mac Trail”)  Discussion concerning the creation of industry specific qualifications.  Government claims that the ‘revolution’ will give employers a chance to take charge of their own training. There are a number of issues covered: thoughts on a new era of autonomy for colleges; the right of employers to have their own qualifications; the ending of the division between company training and national qualifications; an expectation that most companies would call on college expertise to make it work; the expected role of the Sector Skills Council.

TES 1 February 2008, FE Focus, page 3 “Firms lured to take on trainees” (Joseph Lee)  

“But £30-a-week may not be sufficient incentive to offset risk and allay their fears”. “Employers will be given the equivalent of the education maintenance allowance to encourage them to offer apprenticeships”. Reference to Government’s review of apprenticeships which is intended to support efforts to encourage one in five 16-18 year olds to become apprentices within 10 years. Article discusses pros and cons of the grant and the scheme generally.

TES 1 February 2008, FE Focus, page 3 “Saviour of stressed psyches” (Joseph Lee)   

A look at the work of Elaine Boswell at Loughborough College, Leicestershire.  Elaine is the College’s Mental Health Co-ordinator and her role is to support students with problems.